Reuters just published a bombshell of a story: Yahoo allegedly built a secret program that scanned users’ emails for information U.S. intelligence agencies wanted, according to two former employees. The government organizations reportedly gave the company a “classified directive” that demanded the ability to search emails. Rather than fight, the company allegedly acquiesced and built a data-sucking tool (which Yahoo’s security team did not know about) that made the email information available for “remote retrieval.”
There’s a lot to unpack here, and you should read the entire story to get a full scope of what’s being alleged. But there is one big question that looms in the background: Is Yahoo the only one? Reuters writes that it was “unable to confirm whether the 2015 demand went to other companies, or if any complied.” But it’s easy to imagine this kind of secret government order being sent out to bigger, more ubiquitous email services.
So we’re left with a huge question mark. If you know anything about this, I’d love to hear from you. (Anonymity, of course, will be granted.)